I know some bloggers out there are naturally (or are trained to be) phenomenal photographers, fantastic photo editors, or experts in graphic design. I am not one of those bloggers. Not even a little bit. My sister was granted that gift, not me. I’m actually famous in my family for always accidentally cutting off the top part of my dad’s head in all the family pictures I took.
I excel at the written word, not so much in creation of stunning images.
So, for those of us like myself who lack some creativity and skill in this area, there’s the struggle of finding really spectacular images to use in our blog. After all, images are good for SEO and are important to getting users to click on the blog post, and to keep reading it. The solution for us non-photographer bloggers? Stock photos.
But those suckers can get expensive, fast. You start paying chunks of money to different sites to get images that sometimes the client will reject and that you don’t get paid for. That one’s always particularly fun. While a few dollars per image isn’t much (and sometimes it can be factored into the cost you charge), it adds up very quickly, especially when you’re putting out multiple posts in a week.
The solution to this problem: free stock photos. When I first started blogging, I searched high and low for free stock photos, and couldn’t find any. Even the sites that popped up on Google as “free stock photos” were never free and were a few dollars a pop.
Finally, I found these amazing sites that offer truly free stock photos that you don’t have to pay a cent for. Some sites will require you give credit on the image when you post it, but some don’t even ask that. I’ve used each of these sites multiple times (a lot of them on other blogs covering everything from wedding cakes to fishing techniques), and I’ve always had great results.
These images go beyond the use of bloggers, too; they can be used by web designers, for professional projects, printed works (in most cases), and (again, in most cases) ads like Facebook Ads online.
I think the last four blog posts I’ve posted on this site have featured images that came from Unsplash. Their high resolution pictures are all stunning and easily beat out a large number of stock photos that you actually pay for on other sites. They look professional, and their free. They just ask you subscribe so they can send you images to your inbox once a week, and they add ten gorgeous new pictures every ten days.
You are free to “do whatever you want” with these images—no credit or links back need to be given. They are 100% free to use however you wish, and they are at the very top of my list.
PicJumbo is another great site, and easily ranking in as my second most frequently used site, right behind Unsplash. It was created by a web designer who understands the industry’s need for high quality images in full resolution and offered up his own images for free to use how you see it (except reselling them, of course).
Attribution and credit is not required, though it is appreciated. As he says, anytime these sites are getting more traffic and downloads, it means that they keep providing more content to their growing audience. Win-win for everybody.
While Picjumbo has a ton of great images for free, you do have the option of purchasing a premium package for only $6 a month (and all the bloggers out there know that this is nothing—some sites want that just for a single image) for extra hi-res images, some of them unpublished, sent right into your inbox.
Pixabay features those really awesome images, some of which are stunning photographs and some graphics that are created by some seriously skilled graphic designers. They do feature a few images under each category that you have to pay for from another site, but don’t be fooled—everything else is free.
You can use these images without any kind of credit or attribution, so again, these images are completely free for you to use however you see fit.
Another site with page after page after page of beautiful images that are all completely free is StockSnap.io. They are constantly adding tons of new pictures to the site daily, increasing their variety and making sure that every time you come back to the site, there will be new images you can use.
StockSnap doesn’t require any credit or attribution when you use their images.
Gratisography offers even more breathtaking, “use as you please” high resolution pictures for free, though there is a place to contribute to the site’s “coffee fund,” which is one of the most awesome ways to ask for donations I’ve ever seen.
All images on the site are 100% free from copyright restrictions. Post away on commercial projects!
Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter created SuperFamous—a Los Angeles based studio—and the site that shares its incredible work. This is another great site with page after page of stunning pictures (I know, I’ve said that about all these sites, but it’s true).
Unlike almost all the other sites on this list, SuperFamous still offers their images for free but does require credit and attribution for them when you post them. If you’re curious about the legality of all this, check out the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license for more info.
You now have a ridiculously large number of gorgeous photographs and graphics all at the click of your mouse—for free! These sites make it easier to do my job, and to do my job well. Hopefully it can help you do the same!
Even when the sites don’t require it or ask for it, giving attribution and credit wherever possible is always good. It’s an act of goodwill and saying thank you; it sends them more traffic, which in turn allows them to create more images.
Where do you get your favorite stock photos from? What do you use them for? Leave us a comment and let us know!